–FAO Country Director, Mariatou Njie Discloses
The Country Director of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Liberia, Mariatou Njie, has said that the just-ended Japanese supported fisheries and rice projects implemented by her organization in collaboration and the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Culture Authority (NaFAA), has contributed immensely in assisting several small scale fishmongers and processors as well as rice farmers to ensure food security and income generation for their families.
According to her, the fisheries and rice projects supported by Japan contributed to the sustainability of marine fisheries resources by supporting the implementation of the “Port State Measures Agreement” as well as supported several smallholder rice farmers in integrated rice cultivation to increase production through improved practices.
She made the disclosure recently at a one-day meeting with the Japanese Ambassador to Liberia, HIMENO Tsutomu, at the MoA central office in Congo Town. The occasion was attended by the officials of government and some private sector members.
“We successfully completed a fishery project last year. This project contributed to the sustainability of marine fisheries resources by supporting the implementation of the “Port State Measures Agreement.” The Project also contributed to improving livelihoods and food security in small-scale fishing communities through reducing fish loss and enhancing fish product quality, while promoting the implementation of the “Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries,” she said.
Madam Njie said the West Africa region loses an average of $2billion annually to the theft of maritime resources and illegal fishing.
“Fishery resources are disappearing due to Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing practices so detrimental to the livelihoods of coastal communities. To prevent this, the FAO Agreement on Port State Measures has contributed immensely to eliminating IUU fishing since it was adopted by Liberia on May 21, 2019,” she said.
“The capacity of more than 240 fisheries, maritime, port, health, customs, immigration, coastguard, commerce, justice, and agriculture national authorities and other Key stakeholders were enhanced to combat IUU Fishing through capacity development training,” she said.
“Also 1,600 people were well equipped and empowered with the renewable energy and sustainable fish hygiene, handling, conservation, transformation, and distribution kits, and they were technically trained through video training on fish processing best practices,” madam Njie added.
Commenting on the impact of the Japanese support in the area of rice production and processing, the FAO Country Director informed the Japanese ambassador that the project made a significant contribution in helping rice farmers in the targeted counties.
The “Integrated Sustainable Rice System Development”, funded by your government, contributed to the efforts of the Government of Liberia to address several challenges including the improvement of rice production systems through resilient agricultural practices and to improve the capacities of farmers to compete in the rice value chains.
She stated that the project was successfully implemented by the MoA, with the technical support of FAO in partnership with Central Agriculture Research Institute (CARI) and AfricaRice.
“The good agronomic practices for lowland rice production which include the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), have been promoted within the 20 farmers’ groups that is composed of 1,011 farmers, 605 of them women carried out in Farmers’ Field Schools,” she said.
“The targeted farmers cultivated more than 76 hectares of lowland in the targeted counties (Bong and Lofa counties) with the provision of 2,.493 metric tons (MT) of improved rice seeds, mainly Nerica L.19 and 28.4 MT of fertilizers. Farmers’ groups were also equipped and empowered with tractors, power-tillers and threshers, harvester, rice mill, and other agricultural tools,” she added.
She also said that the project was able to construct one warehouse in Bong County with rice processing machine that will increase the availability of milled rice in the beneficial counties.
.”The project proudly counts on a core expertise of 15 extension staff in the two counties to replicate and scale-up the results of rice production and processing. They were well equipped and trained with a technical training manual on SRI production and on good practices for rice post-harvest handling and value addition,” she added.
For his part, the Japanese Ambassador, HIMENO Tsutomu, said that the people and government of Japan remain committed to supporting Liberia to ensure human security for the betterment of the country.
“A great number of project in the area of agriculture and fisheries have been mentioned that is supported by the government of Japan. Our country is delighted to support Liberia in many ways in improving the lives of the citizens,” Ambassador Tsutomu said.
He said that Japan has also been instrumental in supporting the government of Liberia in the areas of road construction as well as supporting the energy and health sectors.
“The government of Japan is doing all these things because she highly values the friendship with the people and Government of Liberia. The priorities of the Liberian government to develop the lives of its citizens are very important to Japan.